Can I estimate my road bike tyre pressures by pressing my thumb into the tyre? I don't have a tyre pressure gauge, and feel that the tyres on my new Merida Scultura are pumped too hard.

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    you have money for a merida scultura but not for a decent pump ? really ? No noway you can use that method to have any kid of consistent measure. May be you can do some calculation based on volume of both camaras your weight and how much the wheels compress when you get on your bike but getting to a store and buying a pump will be faster any way.
    – kifli
    Aug 31 '16 at 11:50
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    For road tires: If you can press the tire in to any degree with your thumb then the pressure it too low. And if your tire pressure IS too high just wait a week -- it's pretty much guaranteed to leak down to a too-low condition in as little as two days, maximum one week. Aug 31 '16 at 12:13

No, not really. It is difficult to get an accurate idea of tyre pressure by pressing it.

Especially for thin, high pressure road bike tyres - they should feel pretty hard. Even if they do feel hard, the pressure may be much lower than it should be.

Best option is to get a good pump, with a built in pressure gauge. Many mini pumps will take a lot of effort to get the pressure high enough, a 'track pump' would be a lot easier.

Tyres do lose air over time - especially thin, high pressure tyres - so it is a good idea to check them regularly, and inflate as required.


you should get a track pump, this will be very useful, since you will need to get a very high and precise pressure on a roadbike (around 100/110 psi), and very low and precise on a MTB (like 25/27/32).

Buying a pump expressing only BAR is not a good option. Answering to your question about too high pressure; consider that it is true that too high pressure will decrease over time, but it could increase if you live in a place where the climate/temperature is high during the day. It could cause the inner tube to explode, and damage your tyre, having to replace it. Buying a new tyre will cost much more than buying a track pump.

Buying a decent track pump costs only around 15 or 20 euros

  • Good advise, but your pricing might be region-specific.
    – Criggie
    Aug 31 '16 at 20:05
  • yes, of course everything is region specific, but considering global shipping, Chinese products getting of better quality every day, and Ebay, things are very easy as well :) Sep 1 '16 at 9:05

If you are machinists you probably know about the “bouncing steel ball” material hardness test. The harder the material under test the higher the ball rebound towards its start altitude, always less than 100%. To your question .. The same principle operate in a reverse order to let it test how hard our wheel (ball) is instead of hardness of the concrete floor. Same principle applies to a basket ball. The catch is we need a standard for reference - ie our bike tire inflated to a target value. Measure how high (peak cm/inch) in first rebound and take it as a nominal record. We can, if we like, to also create a lower limit rebound record that will tell us if we need to inflate or not.

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